Monday, September 6, 2010

Tribulation Facing Gambian Journalism

 NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA(MB)- Government of The Gambia under the leadership of President Yahya Jammeh has posed numerous problems to our democratic dispensation.

Journalists working with the private media generally remain skeptical about their protection and press freedom. In fact, for more than a decade now, journalists have been battling for their liberty as guaranteed by the Gambian constitution in the face of threats against a free press.

Gambian journalists have witnessed a number of legal and economic instruments geared towards curtailing the capacities of private media to operate sustainably.
Some of these problems include lack of access to information, lack of training facilities, the presence of draconian media laws, closure of private radios and newspapers, lack of a promising market outlet and equipments for journalists.
Lack of access to information is a big challenge facing Gambian journalists. Apart from the absence of official spokespersons within government institutions, there is hardly anyone in government or even the private sector willing to talk to media practitioners, particularly those in the independent media. The Gambia, the only country in the sub-region where the head of state and his cabinet ministers do not hold regular press briefings to explain their actions, and on the very few occasions they do so, it is usually for a selected few from the state media.
The market size is complicated by the heavy tax levied against news print and advertising sales tax. The print media pays 15 percent import tax on news print and 10 percent sales.
Gambian journalists lack journalism training facilities. As a result therefore, most Gambian journalists never had any formal training which has some negative bearing on their professional delivery. Journalists are face with lack of a library where one can get journalism books to read, tape recorders, and digital cameras.
The Bond Act made a requirement for a newspaper to be bonded to pay a huge registration bond as surely against possible future fines or damages imposed by the courts. Private newspapers are required to be sworn to an affidavits.
The Gambian media has encountered the severest forms of impunity. There are many atrocities against journalists ranging from brutal killings and arson attacks of individual journalists and media houses to sackings, death threats compelling some journalists to go into self-exile. These atrocities against the press in The Gambia have inculcated fear in many journalists.
Many Gambian journalists have been drag to courts and were prosecuted for conspiracy, sedition and criminal defamation and sentence for years in prisons.

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